Land governance and the politics of custom in contemporary New Caledonia - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2005

Land governance and the politics of custom in contemporary New Caledonia


The land issue lies at the heart of New Caledonia history and politics, in the form of a long-term legal dualism of land tenure and citizenship, initiated with the settler colonisation, the creation of reserves and the invention of tribes in the late 19th century. This dualism is nowadays expressed in the guise of an asymmetric triad distinguishing customary land from public and private properties. The movement for independence in the 1970s has put land claims on the central stage. After 1984-1989 violent events, political tensions have been decreasing thanks to Matignon (1989) and Nouméa (1998) agreements. Land reform has been carried out by ADRAF, a state agency that has been playing a key role in adjusting land distribution between European and Melanesian communities and producing customary land. Parallel to this, a customary senate and cultural area councils have been built up following Nouméa agreement, completing the neocustomary apparatus originating in the colonisation. The politics of custom is thus constitutive of Caledonian land governance, through discursive practices mobilising and manipulating the past and institutionalising processes sometimes playing against the customary logic of negotiability (for instance by promoting devices such as the contested “customary cadastre”). In this contribution, I will review the current political debates and public choices revolving around land governance and customary principles and outline related research orientations highlighting converging elements between political and social sciences agendas.
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hal-02825720 , version 1 (06-06-2020)


  • HAL Id : hal-02825720 , version 1
  • PRODINRA : 39580


Pierre-Yves Le Meur, . European Society For Oceanists. Land governance and the politics of custom in contemporary New Caledonia. 6. Conference of the European Society for Oceanists (ESfO) Pacific Challenges: Questioning concepts, rethinking conflicts, Jul 2005, Marseille, France. 16 p. ⟨hal-02825720⟩
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